Our winters here are no joke, which is exactly why we have the utmost appreciation for summer. It’s not just nostalgia from our school days, either; for “kids” of all ages, those extra hours of sun make a huge difference in our energy levels and psyches, too. When we’re taking full advantage of the season, though, it’s easy to forget about our health — dental health, in particular. The thing is, while there is much to be celebrated about summer, the slight changes in our lifestyles during those few glorious months can actually result in damage to our teeth. What are these lifestyle changes and should you be worried?
What We Drink
Because we spend so much time outdoors during the summer, an ice cold beverage is almost always within arm’s reach. That’s fine if the beverage is water, but because we tend to indulge more during the season, we often opt for sodas, sports drinks, lemonade, and even beer. It’s been well-established that soda is, overall, bad for our health, but the other drinks share the same ingredients that cause tooth decay: acids and sugars. The acids in these beverages weaken the tooth enamel, our first natural defense against decay and damage. With the enamel compromised, the sugars that are in these drinks can more easily penetrate the surface of our teeth. When you’re enjoying one of these drinks, be sure to alternate with water to limit your teeth’s exposure to the harmful stuff.
What We Do
This one might surprise you, because I’m about to explain how physical activity during the summer can actually be harmful. One particular activity that we tend to enjoy during the summer months is swimming. This is great low-impact exercise, but the chlorine can actually cause damage to our teeth. As with drinks, it’s a good idea to rinse with tap water after we emerge from the pool.
The other harmful thing we do during the summer is engage in sports without mouth guards. You may not be in the NBA, but even a pick-up game of basketball with the neighbors can result in a nasty spill that will send you right to my office for emergency care. The best course of action is to always use a mouthguard if you’re engaged in vigorous physical activity — particularly if there is contact involved.
What We Don’t Do
The long days of summer can be deceiving. The sun tells our bodies that it’s only 6:00 when, in reality, it may be closer to 9:00. When we realize how late it is, we’re tempted to just throw the kids (and ourselves) in bed without adhering to our well-established dental hygiene regimen. Resist the temptation and be sure to brush and floss as usual. If you’re too “carefree” during the summer, you may end up with a mouth full of decay come fall.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful summer full of adventures and memory-making. No matter what happens to your smile, I’m here for you — in any season. I look forward to seeing you!